Andy & Brandy Sampson: Former Client & Family on the Power of BE LOUD Breakfast

Andy & Brandy Sampson: Former Client & Family on the Power of BE LOUD Breakfast

We were honored when KCSARC’s former client, Andy Sampson, agreed to be our 2015 BE LOUD Breakfast speaker and share his story of hope. We caught up with him and his wife, Brandy, recently, and asked what it was like to speak at the event, and what it meant to Brandy to be in the room.

We’re delighted to bring you their response – a preview of the hopefulness you can expect to take away from the 2018 BE LOUD Breakfast.

Andy’s Take

Breakfast is such a comforting word, it's the best meal of the day. Who doesn't like breakfast? That meal has always been my favorite part of the day! 

Seeing all those people that morning in 2015 was truly a sight that I have still not been able to comprehend to this day. People from different walks of life, different families, genders, professions, even politicians, all came together for one thing: preventing sexual assault. There were a lot of surprises, but the unity of all the people that attended really stood out.

The other thing that surprised me is how supportive every single person there was. I don't think I have ever gotten that many hugs in one period in my life. Every single person was there to make the event as successful as possible.

I have spoken in front of a lot of people in my life, but that morning, I was still slightly nervous. My brain was full of the usual "what if I mess this up? What if they don't like what I say?" Those thoughts had to go to the side, as I had a job to do that day. As soon as I got up to talk, though, I took one deep breath and looked around. All of these people were here to support each other, to hear about the stories shared. 

The talking itself went by in a blur. I read what I had prepared, remembering only to take a breath now and then. About two sentences in I looked back out into the crowd, and saw smiles and support in each person's eyes. There wasn't anything to be nervous about; I had this.

After finishing my speech, I looked out and saw every single person stand up clapping. I saw men and women with tears in their eyes, I saw the love in my wife's eyes, and the overflowing support from everyone there. 

Andy and Brandy Sampson at the 2015 BE LOUD Breakfast.

I got a few big hugs before I went back down to my seat, where I was surrounded by people who love me and were with me every step of the way. I do have to say, food tasted so much better afterwards!

At the end of the Breakfast, I had quite a few people come by and share how they were impacted, how friends or family needed to hear what was said, and how it opened up discussion at their tables. My story hit them hard and showed why we need places like KCSARC.

When I talk to friends about the Breakfast, I tell them that it is a powerful flood of emotion in that room. That isn't a bad thing in any way. From the strength and passion that people have to prevent sexual assault, to the overwhelming support for all affected, you will feel every emotion you could ever imagine, and it's a good thing. 

Bring tissue. 

Brandy’s Take: 

I was in the front row when Andy spoke at the Breakfast. It was overwhelming in a few ways. The sheer number of people was overwhelming. You can hear the number 1,000, but it is a completely different experience to see 1,000 people all gathered in a room, for this one cause, especially this cause. It is so powerful to see the unity. And for so many people to gather for a cause such as this, a cause that impacts every single person across the planet, in some way, it was intense.

You could feel the emotion in the room. It was palpable, from survivors, from people in the movement, the amount of support and love. You could feel it in your bones.

I recorded the first part of Andy’s speech on my phone. I keep the video on my phone and sometimes watch it still.

There was a sense of pride I felt, that I still feel, every time he talks about his story and sharing at the Breakfast. When I think of that, or when I see the video, there is this moment. It is pretty spectacular to see that survivors can come out at the other side, that there is light at end of the tunnel. 

I helped Andy through the whole process of creating the speech, and had heard it so many times, I thought I would have been desensitized. But I wasn’t. When I heard Andy say that it is sad KCSARC exists but he is so glad it does, that really hit me.  I had to try to keep my face from showing emotion; he was using me as a pillar for support while he spoke. I didn’t process the emotions until after. 

For those hearing Andy’s story for the first time, the reaction was awesome to see, especially the interaction with survivors. After Andy spoke, a man walked up to him. He was shaking and said he had never heard of sexual assault happening to another man before.  He was a survivor.

I have known Andy’s story for 10 years, but hearing him tell it in front of others, especially men in the room, was breathtaking. It was the whole concept of men saying something out loud and speaking out, being in a room with other men, and seeing Andy share and the bravery that involved. Our son was so little at that time, and I remember thinking about the hope filling this room, making things better for the next generation, for our son. 

The Breakfast puts you among a group of like-minded people, from all different backgrounds, who just want sexual assault to end. Hearing stories from survivors and about the support KCSARC provides families like ours is emotional, and I would say if you’re attending this year, prepare to feel something, whether anger, sadness, joy or hope. 

Watch Andy’s powerful message to our 2015 BE LOUD Breakfast attendees.


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